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8 - 5th graders 1 - 6th grader is our new troop. HELP!

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We have recently reactivated an inactive troop in a small community that had been inactive for 2 years. What are some tips to get the boys to run the troop when there is no older scouts to show them "the ropes". Also how can we get older boys to join our troop. As they get older they all pursue other interests and find scouts less appealing.

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Old ASM New SM - I would start by reading the threads in this section of the forum to get a basis to introduce the boys to the patrol method. You also need to get yourself to your adult training ASAP. This will be a multi year effort on your part to instill the patrol method into the troop. You will be directing the group for a large part at first, but if you keep your eye on goal of making it a boy led troop, you should soon see your boys moving into the leadership roles and taking control. Good luck!

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Thanks for the reply.


I have been involved with other troops over the years with my older son and have been to training. The other troops were well established having a smooth running program with older scouts helping. Having such a young group, I do not want to "run the show" but dont want the boys to get frustrated trying to come up with ideas for the meetings. I am familiar with the patrol method and have implemented it. I have had PLCs and have the boys responsible for bringing materials for the different parts of the troop meeting like preopening and the interpatrol game.

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I also advise training as soon as possible. We were in a similar situation a few recent years ago and it was a rocky trip. With an even age distribution among really young scouts, the adults must provide a lot of help teaching the boys how to be scouts and how to become troop leaders as you acquire new recruits. Once the boys become comfortable with the troop and each other, challenge them to bring more of their friends into the troop. Entice them with the recruiter award. Build a great program that takes advantage of the size and strengths of the existing group. Let them have a lot of fun as they learn and grow. Recruiting will be easy for upcoming generations.


We had little success getting older boys to join a small group of young scouts in a troop that was pulling itself out of a hole. I think your best bet is to devote yourselves to the boys you have, make them feel good about the group they form and about the troop they are part of. That will, in our experience, be contagious and other boys will come to you in the future.

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Train Them, Trust Them. Let Them Lead.

First you do need to let the Lads that you have know that this is their Troop. They need to take ownership of it.

Being as everyone is new why not treat the Troop like a new Scout Patrol. Work with them on reaching First Class, but allow each of them to be the Patrol Leader and SPL for six weeks.Allow the PL to choose his APL.Hold PLC meetings with just these 3 Scouts. Cover everything and do everything that a PLC would do in a bigger Troop. Be there to support these youth leaders, but let them run the show. You and your other adult leaders will need to work with them on the skills that they need both Scoutcraft skills and leadership skills, but over time be ready to keep stepping back and away, allowing them to do more and more for themselves.

Recruiting older boys will be hard and I hate to have to admit that more than lightly it isn't going to happen.

Holding the interest of the Scouts you have and not allowing petty little fall outs that younger Scouts seem prone to will be hard work.

The Scouts you have now are the best recruiting tool that you have. Let them be your salesmen but make sure the product they are selling is the best.


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I would go to your Roundtable, & ask another Scoutmaster for a little help. Ask for a couple of his older boys to attend some of your meetings. The older boys love situations like this. Where they know their opinions & guidance will really help.

Dont forget your District Executive also.

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Just a little silver lining . . .


The younger guys are easier to WOW! - high adventure for them is gonna be a weekend campout.


You've got the knowledge to play all the supporting roles.


Patrol name -- "Underdogs" -- superheroes facing a serious uphill climb!! Cool custom patrol patch!


Equipment costs and organizational details will be minimized.


These boys will be a team for the rest of their lives -- this is really an opportunity that few scouts get -- The SMs undivided attention.


No big boy fear, intimidation or vices.


You are all gonna love sittin around the campfire - stories, songs, etc. - these guys are gonna buy-in, big time!


There is absolutely no one who's gonna know everything. The sharing and joint experience is going to be phenominal.


One minivan driver and your good to go!!


The local press is gonna love this story - start with a service project and let the reporter know that in a few years these boys are gonna be high adventure demons! (Make sure the boys are around to hear that!) ;)


No girl issues! (at least not real big ones!)


Merit badge classes will be easy to organize for the whole crowd!


These guys are young enough that "cynical" is NOT part of their daily schtick.


Middle school teachers make great merit badge counselors.


Rechartering won't take all that long! ;)


In a few years, YOU are going to be the proudest SM on the planet!!!


Stop sitting there reading, you've got tons of work to do!!!









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Two years ago, I was in your position. We started a troop with seven 5th graders and two 7th graders. That first year, we were not extremely boy-led. It took a while to get there (in fact, it's still work in progress). During the first year, the ASM and I had to do a lot of the SPL's work for them. But we made it very clear that - when we were acting like an SPL - we were only doing it temporarily.


One year later, they elected their first SPL. It took a little while, but you'll look back and be amazed at their growth.

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Our troop was at the same spot last year.


As a parent, I stayed out of the way though sent things asked for and provided transportation and such.


A couple of parents asked that I become more active due to some concerns. For example, the boys had not made rank. That was the tip of the iceburg.


Initially, I sat in on a couple of meetings. "Boy led troop" consisted of the SM unlocking the door and telling them they were boy led and asking what they planned to do. The meetings consisted mostly of running around outside and rolling on the ground or playing with a tinkertoy type set owned not by the Scouts but by the church.


When they had a camp out coming up, they were told to come up with meals. The boys were quite baffled, so I found recipes, grouped them and put them in a three ring binder. I provided the notebook to the group.


As I was sitting and watching at a meeting (I began attending as requested by some parents), the boys began to write out a grocery list. When I heard them adding hamburger to chicken and dumplings on the list, I finally decided to be more active. I dropped over to the table to see what was going on. The boys thought everything on a single page was required for a dish listed at the top. I explained how recipes were divided and that there were three recipes on the page.


Clearly, very young boys in a new troop can't lead if they don't know how.


This is one year later.


Some of the things I did were:


I offered to type up calendars. I pointed out things needed for advancement and let the boys decide when to do those things. For example, the 30 day fitness for TF had not been done by any. They set up a pre test and then the 30 day follow up. That was typed in so that a timer and such could be arranged. The boys also discussed various merit badges of interest. Some of these were put on the calendar. Programs were to get boys started and not to churn out merit badge completions. Indian Lore games were set up. The boys found and taught games. We also arranged an outing to a burial mound. Then, boys who wanted that merit badge could work on it with a counselor.


I also checked around for community service projects. The boys told me what kinds of things they wanted to help with. I did the research. Now, they have some projects to select from. For example, the dog pound needs boys on Saturdays to wash puppies. They can go three at a time or less. They don't know about these things. Heck, I didn't either until I called around. Now, they can set up community service as they want.


After getting some basics in place--some meeting ideas, community service possibilities and a book with recipes, I began to work one on one.


Senior Patrol Leader can't set up a meeting if he has no clue where to start. I found some templates. I would sit down with SPL or any Scout wanting to coordinate a ceremony or campfire program. I would show them how others had done these and explained how to customize to meet the needs of the groups. For example, they did not have advancement to all ranks. So, it was important to pull out those not needed and focus on those they had made. I showed them where they could add things like candles or a skit and such. They just needed a blueprint and an idea about options.


Some of the meetings got pretty out of hand with nothing much accomplished. To help with this, I set up a college professor to come and go over parliamentary procedure. That helped dramatically. The boys picked it up fast. Now they know how to refocus and to call a vote with discussion. This means that adults seldom ever have to refocus. The boys do it now that they have a tool to use to stay on track.


The last meeting was an intro for new boys moving up from Cubs. The troop wanted to have a station set up. I sat down with the SPL and explained how to brainstorm with all boys. I showed him how to lay out a map sort of thing with the tables and to divide the load. Then the boys discussed what they wanted to cover. They came up with camping, cooking, nature, and first aid. Two boys took each area. They decided what to teach and how to teach. The SPL opened the meeting and sent the new kids to various stations where the Scouts did everything. The adults were totally in the background as would be hoped. This came about only after a year with some pretty intense one on one and with tools provided for success.


At this point, the older Scouts do have the tools and experience. They will be teaching the new Scouts how to take care of the various things needed to be successful in Scouting. But, they can only pass down what they know and what they learn.


Boy led can only work if the boys have some help with the basics. They will, of course, make mistakes and find that some things that look good on paper do not work that well. That's fine. But, they need something to start with. A few templates and some training is essential. Then, they are very creative and add a lot on their own.


At this point, I still type the calendar (and I'm waiting for some to get old enough to have better typing skills than current). I continue to check on community service projects and toss out new ideas when I hear of them. If something new comes up, I find some examples to share. If a boy needs some extra help, I sit down one on one and explain things like how to put together a demonstration with visuals. I continue to send supplies and drive as needed as I did from the start.


After one year, the boys still need some help from time to time but not a lot. When they pull out the three ring cookbook, they understand how to use recipes now. They understand that they can't really make 2 Dutch Oven dishes when they have only one Dutch Oven at this time.


Best of all, they are teaching the incoming Scouts. They have examples to pass on and tips to share. That was what they needed in the beginning, because none of them had done the things before. And, with a new troop with younger boys, they don't have anyone to ask except the adults initially.


Good luck with the new kids. They will need some extra help in the beginning. They do catch on fast. It gets easier every month. The boys are proud when they can take over and do it. But, they appreciate having some examples and some options to consider rather than just "OK. You're boy led. So, what are you going to do?"



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  • 2 weeks later...

Boy does this sound familiar. I am the CC of a resurrected troop in a small town as well, and we have been struggling with training and gathering volunteers to make this work so the boys can operate on their own. We have made quite a few mistakes, but I think we have a chance now that the adults have been enlightened. I am curious though Old ASM New SM, you have nine boys in your troop, we have about eight now ourselves(lost several long story). How do you run with what would logically come out to be just one patrol? We have one patrol, and dont know the answer for the boys when they ask about inter Patrol activities. Anyone know the answer to this?




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Go ahead and break them into patrols. When I was a young scout, we started a troop with 4 1st year scouts and one older scout. We had two patrols (of two boys each) and one SPL. Our troop started two years ago with 9 boys. We had one patrol of 5 and one of 4. We did not have an SPL during that first year. So, it can be done, even with small numbers.

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Wow this is where a buddy and I found ourselves 8 years ago. I met him through his wife, we were both Unit Commissioners. He started a troop, and asked me to come too. He's the SM, I've been MC, ASM, CC for him.


When we started the boys had no idea what to do, so WE (the woodbadge trained adults SM/ASM) bought a ball cap style hat, and campaign hats (yes it was expensive, but IT WORKED). As we played the roles of SPL/ASPL we wore our ball caps (gee does that sound like the old Woodbadge course?) when we acted like adults we either didn't wear a hat, or wore our "Smokey's". We told the boys we didn't want to wear their hats, so we encouraged them to wear them instead. We held JLT and worked for about a year... We did all we could to try and wear our smokeys or no hat at all for an entire month, eventually we were able to do that.


Now after 2 trips to Philmont, 1 trip to Sea Base, 1 trip to Northern Tier (with another one in the works for 2006), 8 different summer camps, and 16 Eagle Scouts later... our 40 Scout 20 Adult troop expect us to continue like this forever since we've always been here... We just look at each other and remember the good old days!


Good Luck with the best parts of Scouting! You'll look back at this and smile, hones...

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is really helping me too.


I am the ASM of a troop that has five first year Scouts. With four completely new scouts and one with eight months experience, we are working on building a new troop. It is a challenge and it is great to know that it can be done.

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I just wanted to chime in and say that sounds alot like the woodbadge course I just completed. Started out "adult" lead, ended up "scout" lead. As I was reading all the replies and thinking of the original post I immediately thought of the coaching phase leading into the mentoring phase of leadership.


You have to first coach or teach them how then you slowly fade from the picture and become more of a mentor. There when they need you. Don't forget...Failures are a great learning opportunity. It's okay if they make mistakes.


The other scouters have givin you (and me) some great ideas to run with. Have fun.



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